For the City Times
It’s opening week in Wisconsin in the Northwoods League presented by Edvest and opening night at Witter Field offered Rafters fans a thrilling finish and sent them home happy. Just hours after arriving in Wisconsin Rapids, infielder Jake Lumley played the hero and ended matters in the bottom of the tenth with a walk-off home run beyond the center field fence. Lumley’s performance combined with a stellar seven-inning showing from southpaw Gareth Stroh lifted the Rafters (1-1) to their first win of the season and sent the Bullfrogs (1-1) to their first defeat of 2016.
Just as last night, the Rafters jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, tonight as a result of a passed ball with the bases loaded. Despite offering a bases-loaded threat with just one out, the Rats were unable to push across more than one run and stranded a pair of runners in scoring position.
The Rafter offense then stagnated over the ensuing five innings, as Bullfrog starting pitcher Luke Lind turned in a six-inning. Lind received enough offensive support to exit the ballgame leading 2-1 and in line for a victory. Hunter Owen, last night’s Bullfrog hero, bashed a home run in the fourth inning to tie the game and Chris Botsoe delivered an RBI fielders choice in the fifth inning to put Green Bay in front.
After a smattering of threats, the Rafters were able to knot the game at two when Jake Lumley crossed home plate on an error by Green Bay second baseman Marcus Shoemaker. The rest of the game would be the Keaton Graf show, as the right-hander from Johnson County Community College racked up five strikeouts in two scoreless innings on the bump in route to earning the win.
Finally in the bottom of the tenth, the aforementioned Lumley proved to be the only hitter necessary to lift the Rafters to a victory, smashing a game-winning blast over the center field wall. Lumley wasted no time in ending matters and stuck a pin in the Bullfrogs before pitcher Chris Jackson could get comfortable on the mound.
Off the bat, Lumley’s drive was destined for the night sky and sent the Rafters dugout into a celebratory frenzy, with base coach Devin DeYoung greeting Lumley with a handshake on his way around first base.
The Rafters will be back in action tonight at Witter Field at 7:05 p.m. and will play host to the Wisconsin Woodchucks from down the road in Wausau.